Wednesday, April 9, 2008

A Bottle in the Gaza Sea by Valerie Zenatti


I'm giving this book five stars, not merely because of the level of writing (which is quite good) but more because of the depth of the issues that Zenatti has tackled and the grace with which she tackled it.

A 17 year old Israeli girl has arranged for a bottle with a note - a grasp at peace - to be dropped into the Gaza Sea, hoping a Palestinian will find it and they can begin some sort of communication. A Palestinian does find it, and their emails to each other are scattered throughout the book. At the same time, we enter their lives - the life of a Jew in Jerusalem and of a Palestinian living on the Gaza Strip. We spent time learning a bit of each of their histories and the current circumstances they face.

What is amazing about this book is that the author doesn't paint either the Israeli or the Palestinian as the "bad guys" or "the victim." You truly get a sense that BOTH sides are injured, tired and hurting - acts of terror are being done by both sides TO both sides and it's not getting anyone anywhere. She ties in a lot of contemporary history and it makes the text feel so real and relevant, you truly get a sense for what life in that area might be like. The relationship between these two people deepens as they become aware that, in the end, they both want the same thing: for their lives to be "normal."

I wasn't thrilled with the ending at first - it stopped a bit short for me. But the more I've let it roll around in my head, the more fitting it has become. We can't expect things in the Middle East to be tied up nicely with some love and a big bow. There will be no "conclusion," probably ever, to the disagreements between these two groups of people, but that finding hope and tolerance, even in yourself, is a triumph worth celebrating.

6 comments:

bethany said...

another incredible reveiw! so this is a YA story? how long is it then? just wondering, it seems YA tends to be a little shorter.

Do you think any of the true intensity was left out because it was a YA book, or did it not seem that way to you?

This book sounds like one of those that all of us should read in order to understand the current events of our world better...does that seem right,after having read it ?
I am off to look this book up on Amazon! Wow, you are just blasting right through this challenge!!! great job, great review!!

Cami said...

For heaven's sake. Are you reading a book a day?? Sheesh!!!

Corinne said...

Bethany - yeah, I classified it as young adult. It wasn't grisly or gory, but it went a lot into the emotional impact of constant violence.

I think it's a great way for teens (or grownups) to get more of a sense of the conflicts in the Middle East - especially a Palestinian point of view, which we seem to hear less of.

Melissa said...

SO glad you liked this one. Makes me happy I gave it to you...

Ramya said...

hey.. came here from bethany's blog. this book sounds really interesting.. am definitely going to pick it up! thanks for the amazing review!

bethany said...

I just reviewed this as well!!! I thought I would like it after seeing your review and I did, I loved it!

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